He won't be playing, but we'll probably still talk about him all the time
The UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg contests are complete.
Here, we make bold predictions regarding the outcome of the second legs—and ultimately the ties—as the competition takes an exasperating two-week break.
They're not out of this world, but they're certainly out there. Share your predictions with us in the comments below.
Paris Saint-Germain were on the verge of a silky-smooth UEFA Champions League away performance. Entering the final 10 minutes, the nouveau-riche French side had a commanding two-goal lead to take back to Parc des Princes after soundly outplaying Valencia.
It was the evening Lucas Moura announced his presence to the rest of world football, Marco Verratti dictated play and Javier Pastore sparkled.
But that was all far too unenthralling for PSG, who conceded a late—and potentially critical—goal and had Zlatan Ibrahimovic harshly sent off.
PSG have the depth and quality to win this game on home soil, but this time they'll do it without stealing all the headlines.
Cristiano Ronaldo's long-awaited return to Old Trafford is imminent and we're all eager to see his performance.
The crowd will graciously applaud him for all that he did during his time in a Red Devils' shirt, but they're widely expected to be groaning when Ronaldo continues his unbelievably consistent goalscoring record.
Hold that thought.
While Manchester United stand little chance of keeping a clean sheet against an attack so ferocious, and will likely have to outscore los Blancos to progress to the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, could it be that Ronaldo's homecoming isn't so sweet after all?
The first leg of this fixture all but ended this tie, as Juventus scored three away goals and secured a clean sheet to take back to Turin.
Many expect a reserved performance from the Bianconeri this time around considering the supreme advantage held, but will have to be wary of a Bhoys side who have nothing to lose and much to set straight.
This game couldn't conceivably be goalless, could it?
Well, the Old Lady have no need for goals and their defensive is clearly sound. Celtic will be desperate to avenge the first leg, and despite the fact they're a good side, could easily fall 3-0 again.
The reigning Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund have been far from bulletproof this season.
As talented as they are, a series of mental lapses and unfortunate circumstances have hindered their pursuit of Bayern Munich. BVB simply cannot retain leads to the required standard.
|Manchester City||1-1||Marco Reus|
|Real Madrid||2-2||Marco Reus|
This is a sample of results this season to prove how many points Borussia have dropped.
Against Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg, they went behind twice and did well to come back. At Signal Iduna Park they will likely strike first, and "the yellow wall" will be hoping they can hold out this time.
The last time Bayern Munich conceded from open play was December 5th, 2012.
Borussia Moenchengladbach managed to score a penalty on December 14th, while Arsenal managed a goal from a corner in the home leg on Tuesday evening.
Let's say the Gunners go one better. No, they don't win the second leg or the tie overall, but they net a goal from open play to halt this astonishing record and deal a blow to this unerringly confident defence.
FC Porto beat Malaga 1-0 at the Dragao on Tuesday night to take a slender advantage to Andalusia.
Los Boquerones sacrificed attacking intent for defensive stability and they put in a superb performance. The Dragoes eventually scored, but it's arguable the linesman should have flagged it.
Expect a much more incisive Manuel Pellegrini side on home turf and expect the offense to gel much better. In Portugal they really struggled despite the return of Julio Baptista and presence of Isco.
Malaga know they have to score a few, but they'll also be aware of the attacking delights Porto carry. This one is difficult to call, but you can expect goals at a minimum despite a low-scoring affair in Porto.
AC Milan did the unthinkable on Wednesday—they beat Barcelona 2-0 and kept a clean sheet in the process.
If you're curious as to how this is even remotely possible, I wrote a detailed piece on it here. Of course the next big question is...can they do it again?
We've seen this before; Chelsea stifled and frustrated over two legs and went on to win the UEFA Champions League. It's not impossible, but the Nou Camp represents its own, different challenges.
The pitch is as wide as regulations allow it to be, the surface zippier, wetter and classier than the San Siro's purposefully barren outlook.
Another onslaught beckons, but after the first leg, why can't the Rossoneri repeat their heroics?
Schalke's season is lost.
They sacked Huub Stevens, which did nothing, they lost Lewis Holtby, which left a rather large hole and they're slipping out of recognition in the Bundesliga table.
With just one win in 12 games to speak of, few gave die Knappen a chance when facing a new-look Galatasaray. Yet they come away with a 1-1 draw and therefore an away goal, so who's the favourite going into the second leg?
But I go back to the first two sentences—this season holds nothing for them. What are the chances Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Co. give it one last hurrah and pull up some trees in Europe's elite competition?
Schalke might just win the second leg.